Saturday, November 9, 2013

Axiom 42: You Are What You Wear

"Good clothes open all doors." -Thomas Fuller

"You'd be surprised how expensive it costs to look this cheap." -Steven Tyler

In 1971 the Stanford Prison Experiment took a small number student volunteers and put them into the roles of prisoners and prison guards to see what would happen. The goal was to research the causes of prisoner / prison guard conflict. After just a short while the students internalized the roles so much they had stepped beyond the predicted behavioral bounds to create some borderline dangerous situations. So much so that the experiment was stopped early.

I would argue that the Stanford Prison Experiment proves the power that clothing can have over human behavior. The students dressed as guards started to internalize the authority that wearing a badge gave them. The students dressed as prisoners started to internalize the savage and reckless behavior that wearing a prison outfit exudes.

It makes me realize how important clothes are in how we are treated by the world and how we feel about ourselves. Ever put on a good suit or nice dress and felt like a million bucks? Did you feel like people treated you with a little more respect?

A few years ago when I would go out to my favorite local bar I would always run into a guy who simply called himself "Big Time". (That's his picture with me above). Every time I saw him he was always wearing a different handmade suit. I saw at least 20 different suits over the course of the few years I would run into him. He told me he only would only wear a suit for one night only. Pretty interesting, huh?

If Big Time had just worn a t-shirt and jeans every time I saw him I would have probably never noticed him. Other people would not have noticed him. He would have blended in the crowd. He wouldn't have got the admiration and respect that he did. 

When Big Time walked in to a place people were excited to see him. I looked forward to seeing what new suit he would be wearing. People would shake his hand and offer to buy him a drink. Ladies ran up to have their photo made with him. He was a local celebrity.

and it was all because of the way he dressed. Get my point?